Defending world champion Sébastien Ogier said a lack of seat time in his new Ford Fiesta would call for 'a pragmatic approach' as he hunts a fourth consecutive Rallye Monte-Carlo victory this week.
The Frenchman has won the rally for the last three years in a Volkswagen Polo R but faces a new challenge after Volkswagen's exit prompted a last-minute switch to the M-Sport squad.
Just five weeks after the move was confirmed, Ogier acknowledged that there was a lot to take in.
“It’s a new season in every sense of the word – a new era, a new car and a new team," he explained.
"We all know that experience is an important factor in rallying and it would have been nice to have had more time with the team, but we have learnt a lot over the past month."
“Over the years, I have learnt to be pragmatic in my approach and to focus on the job in hand. That is exactly what we plan to do this week. We’ve not had a lot of preparation, but we go to this first event determined to do our best."
Ogier has had little opportunity to test M-Sport's 2017-spec Fiesta since his arrival at the team but hopes his successful record on the wintry asphalt event will stand him in good stead.
“We had two days of testing in typical Monte conditions last week and we all know the secret to doing well at this event – it’s all about making the right tyre choice, anticipating the conditions and judging the grip levels. If we can do all of that whilst continuing to grow as a team then I think we could be in a good position," he said.
“I’ve had a lot of success at Rallye Monte-Carlo, but I never fail to feel humbled in the face of such a historic and challenging event. It is an event like no other, and if you do well there then you know that you have delivered your best.”
Team boss Malcolm Wilson agreed that Ogier's late arrival had left him little time to get used to the car - but warned against writing him off.
Wilson said: “You always want more time, but in our case that is especially true. Sébastien is a class-act, but with so little seat time in the Fiesta we have to admit that he will be starting at a disadvantage. That said, if anyone can succeed when the odds are stacked against them, it’s Sébastien Ogier."
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